Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Those Threats

My car made a funny clicking sound after I started it. I froze. My heart pounded loud and hard.

It's been over 11 years since I left my abusive husband, but I reacted automatically. I was on adrenalin-pumping high alert.

I tried to laugh at myself. It had been way too long ago...there was no way my car was about to explode.

Memories came back of the year I separated from my husband. The year my car, my mailbox, and my front door all became a threat. Even then I told myself I was crazy for worrying every time I twisted a key. For the first few months, I had post traumatic stress disorder. I ducked when a man expectantly walked into a room, I went clammy when I heard neighbors yelling, I woke up from dreams drenched in sweat, and I told my kids to wait a few feet away when I turned my car lock. I clamped my jaws down hard each time I turned on the car ignition with a twist of the key.

I wasn't born with lock phobia.

I was the victim of repetitive suggestion. I didn't even notice while I lived with my husband how many times he told stories about blowing up several cars of people he didn't like when he was in high school. I didn't consciously tune in to the times he told me that he knew how to wire the ignition to a bomb (even though he hadn't gone that far in high school). I dismissed as silly the times that he bragged that he had CIA information that would enable him to hide--or make it possible to eliminate someone and eradicate all record of her ever having lived. I thought those messages had little meaning--until I left and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought to the forefront all the direct and indirect threats said over many years.

I've had the car checked. I now know about the sound that set off an old fear. The clicking in my car (due to an electric component malfunctioning because my battery was going bad) was a step of the healing process. It let me know a fearful response still remains buried inside of me. Now, I have the opportunity to ask God to do more healing.

It will be a joy to have no more automatic fear reactions left. Fear no longer rules my everyday thoughts. God has freed me and healed many places within my mind, emotions, and soul already. I trust that he will heal automatic reactions in His perfect timing.

Do you ever see the fingerprints of abuse in your responses to situations? Do you ask for God’s healing?

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Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft